“We have no problem with the convening of a tri-partite meeting over Darjeeling developments with the participation of the state Left Front government, the union UPA government, and the agitating groups: however, there must be a bipartite consensus between the state government and the agitationsists first.’
Thus, said the Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the Writers’ Buildings, after he had met a delegation of the separatist outfit, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) recently.
Speaking to mediapersons after the meeting, Buddhadeb said that “all of us in Bengal, whether of the hills or of the plains have been together in the past, and can certainly remain as one in the days to come, in an ambience of amity, coordination, cooperation, and above all, peace.” There is really no need for a separatist state, a small separate entity.
However, said Buddhadeb, ‘there remains much scope yet of further development of the hill areas of the Darjeeling district in particular.’ Economic, financial, and administrative powers in greater measure could be devolved on the Gorkha Hill Council, which already enjoys a large degree of autonomy.
NO TO PARTITION
Buddhadeb said that he was ready to discuss all the issues with the representatives of the agitationsists. The consensus, however, should be reached within the provisions of the Indian Constitution and not outside of it, he stressed. Unless there was such a consensus reached, Buddhadeb saw the tripartite meeting yielding little concrete results beyond becoming a cosmetic exercise. The Left Front government would not agree to a partition of Bengal, he asserted.
The representatives of the agitationsists told the media that they would not ‘stop short of a separate ‘Gorkhaland’ state’. The agitation, they declared would continue, but would hold an onerous silence when asked as to the form the movement / agitation would take. The agitationsists had earlier told Buddhadeb that they would make their views known to him after a ‘consultation with the higher leadership up in Darjeeling.’ ‘We want ‘Gorkhaland’‘ was their muttering, worrying chant in the corridors of the Writers’ Buildings as they left for the hills.
GURUNG TO GO UNDERGROUND
In the hills, in the meanwhile, a slightly ominous-sounding development has unfolded. Addressing one of the innumerable PR meetings that Gurung holds every day, with various social and professional groups in the hill sub-divisions, he said that he ‘would have to go underground’ before the Gorkhaland would be born. He was addressing, at the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club, a group of teachers of the many schools and colleges that Darjeeling is proud of, including such nationally noted educational institutions as the St Paul’s of Darjeeling town, the Dowhill School in Kurseong, the Loreto convent and the Loreto college at Darjeeling town, St Joseph’s and Darjeeling government colleges, and Dr Graham’s Home in Kalimpong that are quite famous all over the country for their high degree of professional teaching methods, and where a great many children from outside of the Darjeeling district study.
At that meeting, Gurung said that ‘Gorkhaland is a certainty, this way, or that, by 2010, but I shall be underground for six months and that will be the signal that ‘Gorkhaland’ is coming.’ He would not elaborate further on this oddly-cryptic uttering, giving rise to an apprehension of violence in the days ahead. Gurung also ordered all the teachers of the district to deposit one day’s pay every month from now on, in the funds of the Morcha. The teachers told us that they feared the worse. (People’s Democracy)